Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
By: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzar + Bray
Publication Date: April 24th 2018
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
Good morning, lovely readers! We return with a guest post by the lovely librarian-in-training Brittany, here to cover my butt while I frantically move apartments–and also to add some refreshing contemporary fiction to the blog. If you like what she has to say, don’t hesitate to let her know in the comments!
Becky Albertalli will rock your world in this fantastic follow up to Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda. Her true gift for writing teen characters shines through this book, Leah will jump off the pages and into your hearts with her sass and teen angst. If you thought that Simon had such a neat and tidy ending, boy are you in for another treat! Albertalli weaves a story that is awash in teenage awakening and coming of age, with an authentic and believable story about senior year of high school.
Leah shines as the star of the show. No longer just the sassy sidekick to Simon, Leah experiences the tensions and anxieties that come with life-changes like high school graduation. Leah isn’t perfect and she is certainly rough around the edges, but these edges make her a unique and intriguing character. She’s rough in the ways that society and culture normally tell girls is “bad” or will make them “bitchy.” But Albertalli refuses to conform Leah to those cultural norms and instead creates a strong-willed, sharp-tongued Leah.
Leah isn’t the only character thrives in this sequel. Abbey takes center stage with Leah, becoming more than just the girlfriend to Simon’s best friend. While Leah is rough, Abbey is more gentle and feminine, but this doesn’t make her any less ferocious and strong. The power of this duo is in the diversity of characteristics. As a reader I loved them both, appreciating how Albertalli creates dynamic female characters of all kinds. So often girls are told that you can’t be feminine and strong, but Abbey proves that false.
With the drama of high school comes many different conflicts. Albertalli allows her characters to celebrate the end of an era while also writing about the real stresses that come with the end of high school. The narrative moves fluidly from college admission decisions to questions of long distance relationships and friendships. Sprinkled with these larger milestones are discussions around sexuality, beauty, and racism. If this sounds like a lot of plot, it is. However, the narrative rarely feels heavy handed. It’s a true gem.
While Simon largely followed Simon’s coming-out narrative, Leah looks deeper at the process of self discovery. The novel follows characters as they question their sexuality, looking beyond the generally accepted heteronormative narrative. It’s a refreshing story, after growing up with mostly traditional heteronormative love stories in the YA genre. Albertalli continues to illustrate the true diversity of sexuality. It’s no spoiler that Leah is bisexual, building on Albertalli’s cast of diverse narratives, including gay and lesbian characters.
So if you are looking for the next contemporary read with strong female characters, this book should be your next read! Whether you’ve read Simon or not, this book is a quick and enjoyable read. Albertalli continues to rock the YA canon with enjoyable books. Her characters are unique and the true representation of everyone create a powerful reading experience.
Brittany is a librarian-in-training with a focus on school librarianship. In her spare time she is an avid collector of books, cats and cat-like people. Favorite reads include the Lunar Chronicles, Strange the Dreamer, Children of Blood and Bone and anything V.E. Schwab writes. She can usually be found haunting the youth section of the local library, or taking the aforementioned cats on walks (it’s very impressive).
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.